Thursday, December 09, 2004

Creative writing, part II. I'm not feeling very creative tonight, so instead of posting some stream-of-consciousness-carp I'll settle for a story I wrote in creative writing back in 1985:

We're Walking to Krogers

We're walking down Fuller Street toward Broadway and it looks like it's going to rain. Above us the sky is dark, the wind blows in gusts pushing along big grey clouds. Towards Krogers, Brad wants to buy beer at the convenience store next door, they'll accept his fake ID. Dean and I walk as a pair ahead of Brad and Mike. Dean is dark-haired and thin, the smart one. Brad is blond and mustached and has a stomach that threatens to escape from the top of his pants. Too much beer. Mike is a dull, plain red-head with a typical Irish last name. He always tags along after us. I'm the brown-haired mesomorph, the quiet one of the bunch.

Tonight everyone is quiet. We walk along, scuffing through piles of leaves, avoiding the occasional pothole filled with scummy water. We pass a dead animal, maybe a raccoon or a possum. It is incredibly squashed. A mass of black blood and guts.

We have to cross the Huron Bridge to get to the store, but first must pass under it and then go up the pedestrian stairs beyond. We've done this many times, it's our Friday night ritual.

"We should've taken Joe's car, its going to rain, " mutters Dean to me. I nod in agreement. "Why didn't Mike ask him for it?" he wonders.

"I don't know, " I say. "Maybe they aren't getting along."

We've reached the bridge and are starting to walk under it. From behind Brad starts to speed up and in a sudden spurt of motion grabs Dean by his tan coat collar and slams him up against the dirty concrete of a bridge pillar. I'm stunned, so is Dean of course, his mouth open in protest and pain. Mike pushes up next to Brad, leaving me a little distance away, looking on at the three from the patchy grass growing next to the pillar.

"Faggot!" Brad snarls at Dean. His left hand presses Dean against the concrete while his right flails about, finger pointing. Above us a car or truck crosses over the bridge as the wind blows a little harder, scattering leaves at us. "You dirty fucking faggot! I can't believe you Dean, you disgust me."

"What's your problem?" asks Dean, a look of alarm on his face. I am confused. The three of us share a room at the fraternity and Mike lives next door. We're all friends. We are going to buy beer because it is a Friday night, and now this.

"What are you doing?," I am asking at the same time. Dean looks over at me. Brad is shouting also. Over and over again, "Faggot, you fucking homo!". Over and over. Mike isn't saying anything, just looking at the two of them. I wonder if Brad has moved onto more potent things than pot. Dean reaches up to pull Brad's arm off his chest.

"Don't touch my arm, you son of a bitch. You know what I'm talking about, don't act so innocent. We found about you Dean, you're a homo." Brad smiles as he says this, looking very strong and superior as he pushes Dean into the column, leaning forward quite close to Dean. I step toward them, planning to pull him away. I didn't think Brad had had more than one or two beers before we left. I must be wrong. "Stay outta this!" he barks.

Mike is talking now, his voice low. "Janet Palmer, you know, the blond that Joe is screwing, went to this fag bar last Saturday and guess who she saw dancing with some guy?" he glances at Dean. "She said it was obvious that you knew quite a few of the fags there." He is telling this to Dean, but also to me. He must have told Brad. Brad has cooked up some pretty wild ideas and now he believes Mike's dumb story. It was Brad's idea to do this. Mike is too stupid.

"Faggot," Brad says, making the word sound dirty, the way words like pussy sound when you say them out loud really slow. "That explains a lot. Why you never dated, never had a girlfriend. You never talked about fooling around with girls and stuff. We thought you were shy or something. You had us pretty fooled."

"Asexual," announces Mike.

"Yeah that's what we said about you," Brad says. He pauses and spits at Dean with surprising force, but it misses and slams against the wall next to his cheek and slides down in a bubbly drip. Dean and I flinch. He stares at Dean as he slowly screams some more names at him, reeling off a list.

"Faggot, homo, fairy, pansy..." The list rapidly deteriorates. "I thought you were my friend," Brad shouts. I have to do something, to stop this, but I'm chicken. I don't know how to fight and I think Brad is high or something.

"Let him go, " I say. "Are you wasted or something?"

"Fuck off asshole. Dean and I are having a little discussion. Why don't you go for a walk?." I stay put, Brad looks over his shoulder at me and sees that I'm not moving. He motions Mike toward me and Mike comes closer.

"Don't touch me," I say to him. Mike is surprised and listens. He knows I'm a wimp, but I don't think he really likes what is going on, he keeps looking up every time a car goes over us. This is so stupid. Brad has believed some stupid story. Janet Palmer is the flakiest girl, she has to be, to be dating Joe. What does she have against Dean?

Brad looks at me again. "I'm not drunk at all. Dean and I are having a little talk right now." He turns and peers at Dean. "I thought you were my friend," Brad says again.

"I am your friend," Dean says quietly. He seems suddenly tired and as a cloud slips off the moon I see him clearly. He's scared looking.

"No you're not. I don't have any faggots for friends. How about you Mike?" He looks over at Mike, his fists busy twisting Dean's coat.

"No," Mike says quickly. Brad looks over at me, but I am silent. Dean looks straight into my eyes. I look back. Brad starts yelling again as a semi roars over us.

"Did you ever look at me naked Deanny?" he screams. "Did you like what you saw, come on admit it, you musta seen me naked." Of course he had, Brad always walked around in our room like that. Dean and I had decided that either he was trying to attract the attention of the women in the sorority house across the street or it allowed access to scratch his jock itch. Brad is one of those guys who is always touching down there, checking his equipment.

"Did you ever look at my dick?" Brad continues. "I bet he did and I bet he liked what he saw." He is saying this to Mike. "Did you ?" this time to Dean.

"No I didn't." says Dean, not specifying which question he was answering. "I can't believe you're doing this. I thought you were my friend." He talks quietly and I have to strain to hear him as the wind blows stronger and the fallen leaves skitter down the street.

"A faggot?," Brad says incredulously. He laughs a little. I think to myself what an asshole he is for picking on Dean. I don't understand what is going on, why they are making these stories up.

"Yeah that's what I am. I'm really not any different y'know. Now you know a little more about who I am but..."

Brad cuts him off. "Shut the fuck up!" he gasps.

"Christ," Mike mutters. He steps away from him as if he'll catch it. An amazed or maybe disgusted look is on his face.

"Brad let him go, " I say. This isn't happening, any of it. Suddenly I'm all sweaty.

"I'm not done talking to Mr. Homo yet. I have a couple a questions that I've been wanting to ask Deany boy ever since Mike informed me of his sexual perversion...whatever. Alright Dean, have you ever sucked cock? Come on tell us, do you suck cock? Ever gotten fucked before? I bet you take it up the ass all the time. I bet you do. Got AIDS yet? God, I hope that you haven't given it to me. You probably have." He stops.

"You don't have to worry about that, the only way you'd get it is if you've been fucking somebody who has it. Or getting fucked" Dean starts to slide out from under Brad's arm. "The rest is none of your business." Brad pushes harder against him and Mike steps up close again.

"Stop it!" I shout, but Brad is busy screaming at Dean again. My teeth are chattering and it's not because of the cold. I'm scared for Dean. A car passes behind us and the headlights reflect over Dean's face. I want to step in and stop this but I don't.

"It is too my business, I've lived with you for a year and a half and you've been out fucking guys."

"Are you jealous?" Dean asks defiant. Brad grits his teeth and slams his whole body against Dean's, their heads almost touch.

"You shouldn't have said that." Brad isn't screaming now. His voice is hard, as he speaks his moustache doesn't move. "I'm going to teach you a lesson, faggot. But first I want to know. C'mon, did you ever get fucked in the ass? Did you?" Dean looks defeated now, he has sorta slumped down.

"Yes," Dean says. He is looking toward me, but doesn't seem to see me.

"Oh shit!" Mike cries out, glancing away. My heart jumps in shock also. I can hardly believe it, I lived with Dean for more than a year and didn't know he was gay.

"You bastard," Brad says slowly. His arm swings back and his hand becomes a fist and before I can do anything he punches Dean really hard in the gut and steps back as Dean crumples to the ground and as Brad gets ready to kick him in the face I step forward and I make a fist of my own and slug him right in his itchy balls and Brad sorta sucks in his breath and scrunches up his face and falls flat on his ass. Mike gasps.

"What the fuck did you do that for?" he asks me as Brad tries to get up. I musta got him good for he just rolls back again in a little ball, swearing and screaming at the world in general. Mike glances first at one and then the other, both are lying there. Dean is making little choking noises as he gasps for the air knocked out of him. Brad is hanging onto his balls and he's crying and saying, "Shit, oh shit you motherfucker, I'm going to kill you!" over and over again.

Mike looks nervous and peers around, down and up the street. Another car is going by, slowing down with the driver gawking at us. I'm not sure Mike really likes what Brad was doing, and now he bends down and tugs his arm.

"C'mon, you got what you deserved asshole," he says. "You knew he wasn't going to stand there and let you beat up Dean."

"I'll kill that motherfucker."

"Hey later man, I'm leaving and then it's two against one. This wouldn't have happened if you'd listened to me." But Brad doesn't remember or choose to remember as he gets up with Mike's help and limps away, screaming at us into the wind. I've hit him where he thinks.

The first drops of rain are falling now and it quickly comes down faster. The moon slinks around the clouds. I shiver a little as I watch them fade into the darkness and turn and bend over Dean. He's still breathing a little hard and is crying harder.

"Are you going to be OK?," I ask. I brush off a cobweb that's stuck in his hair, rubbing it in the grass to get rid of it's stickiness.

"Why don't you go with them?," he asks, vocal cords stretching. He sounds tired. I kneel next to him and touch his shoulder, running my hand up to his face. As the rain falls you can't tell which are tears and which aren't.

"I don't want to." My stomach is feeling all twisted. Dean turns his face to look at me and through the tears in his eyes I think I see something else.

"Why?" he asks quietly.

"I think you know."

At the time I wrote this it was considered pretty controversial. There was little media attention given to gay people, with the exception of the growing HIV crisis. I was at liberal U of Michigan, but even there most gay guys were probably closeted. My teacher for the class was impressed with the piece and read it out loud to the rest of the class. He liked the language- the use of all of the profanity. I remember the frat guys and sorority girls HATED it. The funny thing about the story is that it all started with the one line, "As the rain falls you can't tell which are tears and which aren't"- I built the whole story around that one line that popped into my head. Now sure how this plays now, 19 years later, what do you think?

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